Well, we had some pretty big "WY-sized" boomers (thunderstorms) out there yesterday...hail came down and lightening cracked right smack overhead. Scared the caffeine right outta me (or into me, lol!)...watched as the pea-sized hail pummeled the back deck and the glass table, crossing my fingers that the hail wouldn’t get any bigger! But this morning, I'm enjoying my Kenyan medium roast, overlooking a fantastic view of the fresh green valley below, with a Sunday reflection of: Belief.
For the past 30 years or so, I've held positions as a [church] music director, keyboardist/organist, choir director, worship leader, etc...which means that I never really had a full, "normal" Saturday-Sunday weekend in a few decades. Being a music director has been a very fulfilling career, and I learned a lot about the different denominations of Christianity along the way. Music will always be a part of me and a part of everything I do. However, taking an indefinite sabbatical from religion in general has proven to be a wise choice for me at this point of my life’s journey, and I've had no regrets.
World religions have always fascinated me...or I suppose I should say that belief intrigues me...what people believe and why they do. I have been blessed to have friends from many diverse walks of life and faith, and have learned much from them. I've read many holy books...the Bible, Q'uran, Bhagavad Gita...I've taken courses and classes on world religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Catholicism and Early Christian History (I still have the course materials). I spend about ten minutes every morning in meditation (before I’ve had coffee, lol). My Native American heritage has had quite a bit of pull lately...
As I peruse Facebook, I see yet many more pages and sites claiming to have “The Answer” to life, to happiness. I occasionally click on them, merely out of curiosity. Most of the time, it’s yet another motivational speaker sell-job...and, as sometimes what they have to market seems viable...quite honestly, I’m just not much of a joiner these days. My own path has led me to a point where I’ve had to really renew and reflect, wring out my heart, mind and soul, and “take the wheel”, so to speak. Doing so has been enlightening, in that…for the all myriad of religions, beliefs and paths, one question in my mind will always remain:
Why isn't the world a better place?
Crime, violence, abuse, neglect, bigotry, human trafficking, child slavery. War, division, greed. Pollution of our air and water. Lying, stealing, cheating, back-biting. But we've been "saved"! "Enlightened"! Does “membership” include someone controlling me, telling me how to feel, think and believe? Yeah, how's all that been workin' for us lately?
I recently read an article recently about world hunger (GlobalIssues: "Food Waste Enough to Feed World's Hungry Four Times Over") Astonishes me that, with all of the programs, ministries and charities, the problem of world hunger still hasn’t been eradicated. A friend recently brought to my attention that child marriage is legal in 48 US states, 19 of which have no minimum age. However, all 50 states have laws stating that minors cannot sign contracts. Think about it. This means minors cannot file for divorce…can’t vote, can’t own property, can’t access many services. Yet, she can be forced to marry (which prompts the question in my mind: Is this just a way to legalize rape? What exactly is the definition of “statutory rape”?) Most of all, is this morally veracious? Hey, it’s law…I suppose just like the law is so “clear” on illegal immigration. But this is just yet another example of how, just because it’s the "law" - as antediluvian as it is/might be - doesn’t mean it’s right.
Hypocrisy is so rampant in the world today, and in my own observation and experience, religion has not only complicated our innate faith and moral compasses, but has participated in perpetrating wrong and justifying it. Calling bad good, and good bad. We don’t know the facts or truth anymore because it's all become extremely subjective. We polarize to what is marketed to us, what is popular, drawn to all the “pretty colors”...only to discover that they were motivated by either an obvious or hidden agenda.
After a recent “soul wipe”, I replaced and embraced my own, simple faith, which is: Be good. Be nice. Be strong. If your belief system or religion works for you, great. If it makes you a better person, great. But don’t tell me how I should think, feel or believe. Don't define (or judge) my faith, my spiritual journey. Just know that, in my own “holy book” of life, religion has thousands of years of catching up/proving to do…and has been in the red for just as long. I always tell my clients to “keep it simple and excellent. The more complicated you make it, the more you have to manage.” Organized religion and politics have complicated everything to a point where there is more stress than peace…more cynicism than sanguinity…more laws than ethics…more fear than freedom.
Yesterday, I attended the Eastern Shoshone Pow Wow at Fort Washakie. I took some photos and videos…had a difficult time keeping the tears back. My favorite part of pow wows are, of course, the music. The drums…the song and heartbeats of our mother Earth. Sometimes I wish the whole world could come together in one big Pow Wow and get back in touch with our innate faith. Yes, even atheists must have faith that the sun will rise and set...that rain (hail) will fall...that all will be well when we sleep at night...
So the question is: Are we making the world a better place?
When people ask me what I believe, I ask them if they believe that they are a good person. When they say they believe they are, I tell them, “Then I believe in you.” They will prove it by what they do, what they say, and how they live their lives. Not because they believe in a holy book, not because they’re a member of a church, a political party, or because some preacher, prophet or motivational speaker said it was the way to do it...but because “The Answer” is inside of us. We need start giving ourselves some credit for living lives that have been (and are) filled with love, success, joy and celebration, as well as experiencing hurt, pain, suffering and lapses in judgment. It’s called wisdom, which can only be gained by learning and living, not anyone else’s, but our own timelines.
Oh dear, my mug is empty…time for a fresh cup!